My Ventilator Quit And The House Nearly Caught On Fire
Today I was sleeping on my side when suddenly I heard the loud, continuous beep that means catastrophe: “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE—-” not the normal “beep beep beep,” of a tube disconnected, but the blaring, terrible din of total ventilator failure. I couldn’t breathe at all, the machine I get each breath from had suffered total shutdown. The sound woke the whole house. Mom, Nana and the nurse all came running. I couldn’t talk, so I sputtered my lips in the “I can’t breathe, HELP!” sound. They bagged me like on ER, manually, while they got the spare ventilator.
A ventilator is really just a device that pumps room air, like the manual bags you see on TV. It’s not oxygen, as I have to tell every airport multiple times whenever I travel (though I add O2 in-line later). A ventilator works like the bellows on old Tom and Jerry cartoons, when Tom gets flattened and Jerry grabs the bellows from the fire and pumps air into him to reinflate him. I tried to find an image of this on Google Images but it came up empty. So I sketched one out real quick:
How a ventilator works. It’s just an air pump.
I’ve been on a ventilator for 12 years, and only three times have I experienced the fatal beep and total shutdown. Once it was due to a frayed electrical cord near the plug, once it was because I got caught in the rain at college, and this time I don’t know what happened. It just died out of nowhere. I am very fortunate that I have people nearby that know what to do, or I would’ve died too. They bagged air into me for the brief time it took to hook up the spare vent.
We called our medical equipment guy and he said the piston inside the machine that does the pumping may have cracked. No one knows. Freak accident.
And if this wasn’t enough, before I could get the spare vent settled in, THE LEAVES OUTSIDE MY BROTHER’S ROOM CAUGHT FIRE!
The flames spread and caught a wood box on fire.
NEAR THE GAS MAIN.
Everyone smelled smoke. There was a panic. Who knows what caused this; a cigarette from the medical equipment guy?
But Mom got the water hose and put the fire out.
Then I went back to sleep.
This would be called a disastrous day by most. But for us, it’s called Monday….